Sunday 25 June 2017

The family ties that have been healing the rift with our nearest neighbours

President Michael D Higgins in conversation with Queen Elizabeth before the historic state banquet in Windsor Castle.
President Michael D Higgins in conversation with Queen Elizabeth before the historic state banquet in Windsor Castle.
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Watching the outpouring of warmth and friendliness – the cheers and tears by crowds at London and Windsor as the President and the queen stood side by side, Irish Tricolours intermingling with the Union flag, national anthems being played at parity – it was startling to recall a very different recent history.

Startling to remember that when I was a young schoolgirl, and Queen Elizabeth was crowned, Irish people had to creep secretly into Protestant church halls around the country to view that Coronation. Because the film of the Coronation was not allowed to be shown openly in the Republic of Ireland.

Startling to recall that when Princess Margaret, the queen's sister, visited Birr in 1960 – since Lord Rosse was her brother-in-law – the newspapers were full of letters of protest and the local IRA tried to plunge Birr into darkness by sabotaging the electricity.

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